Last week, AppGratis was pulled from the App Store by Apple. Is this decision fair or not? What help/advantages companies like AppGratis provide to iOS developers? Is it cheating? We would like to answer those questions from a small team's point of view.
Back in late 2010 we released our first app on the App Store and we learnt an important lesson: visibility is everything. If your app is not visible then it doesn't exist. You might as well spare yourself the effort of submitting it because the result would be the same: no downloads. And therefore no money. It is not enough for an app to be on the App Store to get downloaded.
We have been lucky: we came across AppGratis in their early days. They helped us to get the crucial visibility we needed. It is important to understand that, as a new — and French — team, it is almost impossible to get big players like Gizmodo, Engadget, etc. to talk about your apps. So you have to try different ways. AppGratis has always been willing to help newcomers. Look at their daily deals: it is often apps from new/small developer team that would never have been noticed if it was not for AppGratis.
For example, our app ON/OFF has initially been downloaded 70,000 times and, after AppGratis featured it, over 900,000 times. 900,000 real, active users! We believe that Apple's decision was unfair not only to AppGratis (a start-up that raised $13.5M) but also to small teams like us. Developers need visibility or they die. App discovery services can provide it and it is by far less expensive and more effective than any other traditional advertisement services. It is a simple equation. Developers need every possible tools to bring their apps to users. Users need them to discover new apps. It's a win-win. Apple's attempt to limit app discovery to the App Store is therefore bad for both developers and
Can AppGratis be considered as a cheating service? We believe not: AppGratis is mainly a buzz maker, exactly like a post on Engadget or a good TV commercial. It just allows good apps to get widely discovered.
Along our journey to become famous iOS developers, AppGratis helped a lot. We have started in our student bedrooms and are now working in our own office. We can live from our passion and AppGratis has been a major part of this success. We thank Simon and his amazing team for that. And we hope this will continue in the future.